HEALTH

BYU study shows wearing pedometer increases step count, even without looking at it

Sep 20, 2022, 1:07 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 4:57 pm

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PROVO, Utah — A new study found an easy way to increase daily step count: just clip on a pedometer.

The study, done by Brigham Young University, shows that wearing a pedometer increases step count, even if users don’t look at it throughout the day.

“Humans are hardwired to respond to what is being measured because if it’s being measured, it feels like it matters,” BYU Marriott School of Business professor Bill Tayler, an author of the paper said. “When people go get an Apple Watch or a Fitbit, of course it’s going to affect their behavior; they obtained the device with the goal of walking more. But it’s helpful for individuals to know that even without trying, just being aware that something is tracking your steps increases your activity.”

The study found that those who used pedometers took on average 318 more steps per day than those without a tracker, even if they didn’t look at the pedometer or have specific fitness goals.

“We wanted to find out, absent goals and incentives, does simply tracking fitness change behavior? Until this study, no one had convincingly shown what we’ve shown — from an academic point of view, it turns out this is a super hard question to answer,” Tayler said.

The reason that can be so hard to measure is in order to know if people walk more with a pedometer, it requires knowing how much they walked before.

The way this group got that data? Iphones.

iPhones have a step tracking figure, for those already using it, it gave the team data of their steps before the pedometer.

Tayler said they received permission from participants to use their history of steps as recorded on their iPhones.

The team then gave participants a pedometer to wear, some without displays.

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BYU study shows wearing pedometer increases step count, even without looking at it